Framework for Professionals Working with Young Children

The CT Core Knowledge and Competency Framework (CKCs) for Professionals Working with Young Children and Their Families outlines 7 domains of competencies and indicators:

  1. Promoting child development and learning
  2. Using developmentally effective approaches for facilitating experiences
  3. Building a meaningful planned program of learning and development
  4. Observing, documenting, and assessing
  5. Building family and community relationships
  6. Promoting health, safety, and wellness
  7. Practicing professionalism and advocacy

Each domain is broken down into 4 levels which build on each other:

  • Levels 1 and 2 indicate what any professional who works with young children and families — no matter their role or discipline — is expected to know and be able to do
  • Levels 3 and 4 are unique to teachers and caregivers of children from birth to age 5

Review or download the framework for professionals working with young children.

The 7 Domains

1. Promoting child development and learning

Knowledge of child growth and development is critical to every role in the early childhood workforce. Early childhood professionals work in partnership with families to tailor experiences that nurture individual differences and support children to reach their full potential. 

Early childhood professionals need to understand how to:

  • Foster young children’s learning and development
  • Help parent(s) to support growth and development

Read the chapter on promoting child development and learning.

2. Using developmentally effective approaches for facilitating experiences

The use of developmentally effective strategies and tools to promote development and learning is based on: 

  • An understanding of child development 
  • The knowledge that positive relationships and interactions are the foundation of practice

This competency area focuses on the practitioner’s role in designing interactions and experiences. 

Read the chapter on using developmentally effective approaches for facilitating experiences.

3. Building a meaningful planned program of learning and development 

In order to outline goals and objectives for children and families that support continuous growth, early childhood practitioners must have a firm understanding of:

  • Relationship-based practice
  • Child development
  • Appropriate resources

Read the chapter on building a meaningful planned program of learning and development.

4. Observing, documenting, and assessing

This competency area covers the knowledge and skills to conduct responsible, ethical, and effective observation, screening, and assessment of young children. This includes the ability to accommodate individual variations, developmental needs, and the identification of special needs.

Read the chapter on observing, documenting, and assessing.

5. Building family and community relationships

Children live in the context of families and communities. Professionals must respect this and consider all family structures and cultures. 

This competency encompasses the knowledge, skills, and dispositions required to value and respond appropriately to all aspects of family diversity – such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, culture, family composition, religion, age, ability, and home language. 

Read the chapter on building family and community relationships.

6. Promoting health, safety, and wellness

Foundational to all practice is assuring the health, safety, and wellness of young children. Central to this competency is the belief that children’s health is not simply surviving, but thriving. 

Thriving is more than the absence of illness or injury — it encompasses promoting safety, nutrition, wellness, fitness, as well as physical, emotional, and social well-being. 

Read the chapter on promoting health, safety, and wellness.

7. Practicing professionalism and advocacy 

Professionals should identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood profession. This means:

  • Valuing the diversity of lifestyles, languages, beliefs, and cultural backgrounds that can be found in all aspects of our society
  • Advocating for policies that are free of bias and responsive to the varied needs of children and families

Read the chapter on practicing professionalism and advocacy.

Last updated June 7, 2020